(Bonds) Security deposits
A security deposit (bond), is an amount of money paid by a tenant and held by the landlord as a guarantee. This can also be in the form of a bank guarantee.
A security deposit gives the landlord a level of protection if the tenant fails to comply with their obligations under the lease agreement. It is not a legal requirement to have a security deposit, however, it is common for lease agreements to include a security deposit.
A landlord or an estate agent acting on behalf of a landlord is required to hold the security deposit in an interest-bearing account. The landlord must account for the interest earned on the deposit but is entitled to hold the interest.
The landlord must return the security deposit (including any interest earned) to the tenant within 30 days of the lease ending if the tenant has met their obligations under the lease.
Any dispute concerning its return can be referred to the VSBC for dispute resolution, for example, if the security deposit (and any accrued interest) is not returned or only part of the amount has been returned.
Negotiating a security deposit
The security deposit requested by a landlord can be equal to one or more months’ rent. The dollar amount of a security deposit is not regulated by retail leases legislation, and landlords and tenants should negotiate a mutually agreeable amount.
Accounts holding security deposits
The Act does not specify a special type of bank account required to hold a tenant’s security deposit.
Some banks may have special products for the purposes of holding security deposits, however, most banks can accommodate the landlord’s requirements.
Most banks are aware of this landlord obligation. Landlords should discuss their needs with their bank or credit union.
Relevant case study
The situation: A retail lease has expired. The landlord’s agent has refused to refund the security deposit because the tenant needs to reinstate the premises to their original condition.
The process: The tenant provides reasons why the security deposit (bond) is being withheld. The agent has advised the tenant that repairs need to be done to restore the premises to its original condition. The tenant calls the VSBC for advice and speaks to a Dispute Resolution Officer for preliminary assistance.
The resolution: The tenant reviews the list of repairs to be done. The tenant believes many of these repairs are from normal wear and tear. The tenant and landlord agree to split the repair costs. The tenant is refunded half the original security deposit (bond).
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